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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  June 3, 2013 11:00pm-12:01am PDT

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there's much more that we all need to know about this. dr. hilda hutcherson, thank you very much. she's getting the last word on the show. she will get more words after the show that we will post online. attack, attack, attack. let's play "hardball." good evening, i'm chris matthews in washington. let me start tonight with this. there's a lot of attacking going on in washington these days. it's attack, attack, attack. and what did obama do to encourage this unstopping attack on him? did he actually do something at the irs? well, nothing's come forward yet. the guy running the irs during the bad stuff coming out now was
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an appointee of george w. bush. just who is it that's leading the attack on the president? nonetheless, it's darrell issa. the congressman from california who spent $13 million running for the u.s. senate without luck. and lately tries to match the celebrity of being a senator by turning his membership in the house into being the big noise in washington by attacking the president. even before he got the chairmanship, congressman issa was calling president obama corrupt. not only that, in office just 18 months, obama was, quote, one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times. that was issa. before he began his investigations. based on? nothing. issa set his heart early on tearing down this presidency, long before he had any evidence against the president and pursues it now even though he's made none or come up with no evidence so far. david axelrod is a former white house senior adviser. howard fineman with the "huffington post." both are msnbc political analysts. david, i'm looking at this thing historically. there have been periods in our history, where one party, it has been the republican party since world war ii, that's tried to make its bones if you want to use mafia language, make its bones by attacking the other party. they got in after 20 years or so of the new deal and fair deal in
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1946. all they did was hold hearings. hearings, hearings, hearings. they said they used to open the day with a prayer, end it with a probe. it never ever ended. and it ended up being kicked out in two years. darrell issa must have had no knowledge of history. here he is trying to imitate that period of congress with huack hearings. in 1998 they tried to do it with clinton. they seem to have nothing in their gun except negativity. your thoughts. what are they doing? why are they repeating the negative past that got them nowhere? >> they're doing it because i think they're playing to their base, chris. i think that they're -- you know, my view of the republican party right now is that they have a civil war going between the ego and the id and the id is winning. they, you know, they love to attack the president. they love to oppose the things that he's done. they don't offer a positive program in response, and i think that's why they're limited in their growth. but in their districts in those homogenous republican districts, it works.
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i sat next to marsha blackburn on a panel yesterday. she said everybody in our district is talking about eric holder. i don't think that's true. even if it were, her district isn't representative of the country as a whole. it's a homogenous republican district. she'll never face a general election campaign. that's their view. and it's limited. it's narrowing. and it also is bad for the country. but that's the game they're playing right now. >> yeah. i'd like to do a jaywalk through the district there. i know he has the patent on that, jay leno. i'd love to go through marsha blackburn's district and say, who's james rosen? what are we talking about? let me go to howard here. howard, this use of the subpoena, which they want when they won the house. i always say watch one thing. nixon saw it in '72. the minute the other party gets the subpoena, they play with it like a toy. they got a pony for christmas. that's all they do is play with the subpoena. they don't legislate anymore. they don't do anything. all they to is investigate and
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attack. this is a historic problem with the republican party and one reason they had a hard time dealing long-term control of the congress. >> as david said, if they had an agenda they were going to pursue legislatively, maybe they wouldn't be as fascinated with the subpoena toy. >> yeah. you mean the republican alternative for health care? >> yes. >> the alternative. >> yes. >> or the republican jobs bill. >> which doesn't exist. look, from the very beginning they said on the day that the president was first inaugurated, the house members said our goal is to defeat him. >> yeah. >> to stop him. delay him, defeat him. >> what do you make of issa saying he's the most corrupt president in modern times? corrupt meaning he passed health care, the stimulus bill. what else did he do? >> they're looking for a way to discredit retroactively what turned out to be a pretty convincing presidential victory. as david said, darrell issa and others. it's not just darrell issa. there are lots of other committees. there's lots of other subpoena power in the house. by the way, there are senate committees where the democrats still control things where
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they're going to look at these things, too. but the republicans have no positive organizing principle right now. if you look at the new report that the young college republicans did about their own plight -- >> we're going to do that in the next segment, by the way. >> they're also saying, where's the positive message? they want one, too. the young republicans want one. >> the decency factor. let's talk about this attack by issa. he calls jay carney, who everybody knows is a pretty good guy. in fact, a pretty good journalist over the years. he calls him a liar. a paid liar. i always dislike that word. i don't use it. i always think once you say that, you're kicking the table over in terms of any decent political relationship. what are you going to say next? well, i know you're a liar, but. it does seem to be a game changer in the worst way of politics. your thoughts. he's a liar. the president's press secretary. >> you know, chris, first of all, i know jay very well, as you do. and i agree with you -- >> i respect him an awful lot. i don't understand this rotten language being used. >> he's a good guy. beyond that, look, the danger for the republicans is always that they will go too far. i think that there is a legitimate reason for congress
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to ask what happened at the irs. i don't begrudge them that. but to take it as a kind of search and destroy mission and then go over the top with language like that, i think, is going to damage them. and this is exactly what we saw going into the '98 election. obviously they had impeachment going on then. >> i know. >> it's overheated rhetoric. >> let me go back to what howard and i were talking about. back in october of 2010 a month before republicans took the house and got the subpoena power, issa was gearing up to make a name for himself. take a listen. >> it's going to be acrimonious. there's no question. there will be a certain degree of gridlock as the president adjusts to the fact he has been one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times. >> what idiotic talk? until the president adjusts himself -- what kind of -- what does the sentence structure mean? until the president adjusts himself to the fact that he's been the most corrupt president in history? what are you talking about? what does it mean?
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i want to go to the next point here. i want to stop on this point. what kind of logical statement is that? until the president adjusts to the fact that he's one of the most corrupt presidents in modern -- how do you adjust to that fact? it doesn't even make any sense, david. what kind of english is that? >> well, look, i think the bottom line is that what makes it more ludicrous than just the fact of it, it's not what the american people believe, not what the american people know. it's not how they perceive barack obama. when you use language like that, you may thrill the id, you may thrill the base. most americans just shake their heads and say what you're saying, which is, what are you talking about? so this really underscores the problem of the republican party. now, issa was less active before the election than people expected him to be. i wonder if the party tried to bridle him a little before that election because they thought there would be a negative backlash to it. obviously it's issa unchained now. >> yeah, it is. howard, get in here. november 8th, "politico" article, days after the
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election, this past election, this point, issa is the incoming chairman, as i said -- the article, by the way, is entitled "issa plans hundreds of hearings." here's an excerpt of the article. "issa told "politico" in an interview he wants each of his seven subcommittees to hold one or two hearings each week. issa sees the committee's role as not policy but to "measure failures." this is the purpose of the guy's life. >> yeah. i know darrell issa. i've covered him. he's a smart guy, but he needs some advice. what he should do is follow the example of john mccain who was on nbc and msnbc this morning. mccain's approach was not in anger, but in sorrow. not jumping to any conclusions, let's take our time. let's not overreach here. let's be careful. let's look at the facts. and that's the approach, if you're going to accept the legitimacy of this, and i agree with david, there are things that need to be looked into,
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especially at the irs. >> do you know how far issa is from that? >> i know how far he is. >> he's guilty, let's have a hearing and prove it. >> i know. what i also know about darrell issa is he's a guy who chafes under what -- what he sees is the idea is he's not properly respected in washington. >> you're talking about id here. >> david's engaging a little psychology. i was going to do the same. >> he spent 13 million bucks and threw it away trying to be a big shot senator from california. he's trying to make being a congressman, one of 50-some congressmen from california into a big shot job. his way of becoming a california big shot is to follow the technique of nixon. >> what he's going to do, and david's brethren and sisters in the white house are very good at it, is use the jujitsu of spin and campaigning to make it about darrell issa and not about what happened at the irs, right, david? >> that's what i'm doing. i don't think it is about darrell issa. let me ask you this, as a former loyalist to the president and permanent lifetime loyalist in a
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personal sense, have they put a finger, have they touched the president here? the irs thing is run by a republican, doug shulman. he's probably a bureaucrat, not a bad guy, but he didn't run a very organized shop over there. nothing to do with president obama. you get the stuff with benghazi. i haven't heard one word that put a finger on the president, what he did in that horrible tragedy. look what happened to us on 9/11. we lost new york, lost washington. nobody blamed bush for being a bad guys. these republicans call obama a bad guy for what happened in western libya during a revolution. it's unbelievable the way they set -- he's evil because some people got killed. no, he isn't. something bad and horrible happened to a very good group of people. things happen like that. we can find out what happened. the immediate assertion, the guilt and evil the president has brought to play. they play by different rules, david. that's what i think. >> yeah, well look, i think there's no doubt what you say is right. the inspector general who did the report, independent
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inspector general said there was no evidence of outside influence. there was no evidence of political influence. and howard, i disagree with you in just one sense. i don't think anybody in the white house is fearing where this investigation will lead because they know the truth which is they didn't know -- look, if there were a political person involved over there, they would have said, you guys are nuts, what are you doing? >> wait a minute, i don't think i said they were fearing it. i said they were just going to use it as jujitsu. >> the bigger jujitsu, political argument, republican congressman said last week the president's bringing up the doubling of student loan rates and the fact that we have to stop them as a way of distracting people from the irs controversy. well, how detached from america can you be? and that's the real argument which is they're not talking about the stuff that people are talking about out here in america. you know? >> david, i'm willing to say right now, having just finished my friend jonathan alter's book which is about, among other things, the 2012 campaign and
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how brilliantly it was run and how focused it was, that if the administration was as vigilant as you guys were in running that campaign, then i think it's possible that some of the things that are being attacked now and investigated now wouldn't have existed. >> by the way, david, silence is consent. you don't have to say a word. you just let that go. we'll know what you think. now, if you want to talk now, you're crazy. david axelrod, thank you very much. thank you, howard fineman, for telling the truth. if they ran the government the way the politics of the white house, the way they ran that campaign, this stuff would be all thrown out the window. coming up, here's a dose of reality for the republican party looking to win the youth vote. a new report by college republicans, pretty smart report, finds young voters think the party, the grand old party is racist, close minded, rigid and old-fashioned. and says the big reason for the party's image problem among the 18 and 29-year-olds is the outrageous statements made by republicans themselves. young people watch television, they read the paper, they're on social media. they know what's going on.
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by the way, the irs isn't in trouble enough? a new report shows the agency spent $50 million on conferences and its employees over the past three years. house republicans release this video of irs workers, there they are, line dancing at one of those conferences. your taxpayer dollars at work. anyway. we'll have more on that bad news from the irs. plus, jonathan alter's inside account of the obama white house and the 2012 election. just how close did america come to electing mitt romney president? finally, let me finish with how these recent charges against the president have missed the mark totally. this is "hardball."
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senator frank lautenberg of new jersey has died now this morning. the five-term senator was first elected in 1982 after a successful business career. i'd say. lautenberg, the last world war ii veteran to serve in the u.s. senate will be remembered for his liberal voting record, for banning smoking on airplanes, for getting the drinking age raised to 21, and for championing mass transit. in 2004, he famously took on
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dick cheney for being, quote, the lead chicken hawk after cheney criticized john kerry. now new jersey's governor chris christie must name a replacement. the special election will be held to fill the remainder of lautenberg's term which is at the end of 2014. we'll be right back. you kids should count yourselves lucky.
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welcome back to "hardball." remember the rnc's "autopsy" report that basically described the enormous hole republicans had to dig out of with regard to minority, women and the candidates they recruit? that report looks tame compared to today's report by the college republican, actually the college republican national committee on how the gop lost the youth vote last november. it starts out, "our research finds both a dismal present situation and incredible opportunity for turning the gop brand around." i guess when you've hit dismal the only possible positive spin is there's room for improvement.
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can't go down any further. it sums up focus group research that says "we've become the party that will pat you on your back when you make it but won't offer you a hand to help you get there." and latino voters tend to think the gop couldn't care less about them. these are all in the focus group comments. and when young voters identified by pollsters as winnable, even those that voted for obama were asked, what words come to mind when you heard republican party? the responses were brutal. "close-minded, racist, ridged, old-fashioned." sam stein covers politics for the "huffington post." joy reid is the managing editor of the grio. both are now msnbc now veteran contributors. thank you, both. i tell you, sometimes i wonder why you have to pay for a report. i want to start with sam. i mean, sometimes, you know, what's today's date? going to put out a report and have somebody come back for the information? you know, we do know that the republican party based upon its performance in the last campaign blew it for the young people, meaning people in their 20s and late teens. >> yeah, this report, it's sort of, as you said, stating now what is the obvious. mitt romney lost by 5 million
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votes, estimated among voters under 30 years old, which is a huge amount to make up for any candidate. and the conclusions here are pretty self-explanatory. the republican party, as you mention, is there to accept people when they've made success of themselves but won't help people make success of themselves. it goes through a litany of the data points to show there's image problems, but more importantly, i thought, was that the main takeaway is there's a real policy problem. there is no proactive policy the republican party has introduced that would captivate the young voters' attention at this point in time. i think that is the bigger issue facing the gop, what can they put together proactively as opposed to something they can change communicatively? >> let's talk about the reality. i think the voters are smart. joy, sam, i always assume rationality. i don't think voters are driven by some sort of unclear charisma. with kennedy, it was focused in reality. fdr. all the charismatic presidents had clear messages that people clearly understood. let me start with joy on this. same-sex marriage. big differential with people under 30.
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you're african-american. i'm not. i tell you, my sense is you can almost predict a difference in attitude on ethnic issues based upon age. people, 70-year-old white people, i bet they voted overwhelmingly against obama. they just did it. whereas kids in their 20s say what's the issue about ethnicity and race? they were open to, in fact, maybe thrilled by it. these issues i think are real. i don't think it's about pr or organization. i think it's about basic values, becoming different as you get in the younger groups. your thoughts? your experience? >> i totally agree with you. you have a president who sort of represents generation-x values. he listens to hip hop, listens to jay-z. he signifies to a younger voter like their cool uncle. >> also al green. >> al green. he's got a little bit of both. he's on the cusp of gen-x. i think to younger voters, especially when you look at how culture has sort of metastasized across race. hip hop is not just an african-american form of music. white kids are listening to it, too. the same cultural cues work for
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white and black younger voters. when you have the republican party essentially have a huge over the top anti reaction to the election of the president where everything they've got is thrown into hating this president, denying his election was valid. throwing everything they've got at him. you're also reacting against the whole cultural norm that defines younger people. >> i think so. >> younger people look at this overreaction by republicans who generally are older and whiter, and they see a generational problem there, too. they're like your mean dad. obama's like your cool uncle. it's not hard to figure out which side young people are going to pick. >> i'm wondering when hip hop is going to get to my little station. i listen to '60s. it may not break through my brain. the college republicans report cites bumbling 2012 candidates. "it's not hard to find examples of republican missteps in the 2012 election that enhanced this brand challenge. whether the infamous 47% remarks made by romney or the legitimate rape comments made by republican todd akin in his senate campaign.
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then there were numerous examples of republican examples of republican leaders making statements that were terribly out of step with where voters, particularly young voters stand." words do matter. they convey ideas. ideas convey policy and values. again, i believe the voter is rational. they're voting for what they believe in. what they connect with. and i think that romney, not an evil guy, seemed like at least a square, as we used to say. you know, a guy not connecting at all. then all these platitudeness things about same sex and abortion. nobody really believed him on those. >> the words matter -- >> because he believed it, too. >> the words amounted to the extent that they echo or confirm a policy standpoint. i want to point out two things. one was gay marriage. for the young generation, this really is a civil rights issue. if you are against lgbt causes, it is tantamount to almost bigotry. that's because a lot of young people, myself included, happen to know people who are gay or are related to people who are gay. it's a facet of our lives that
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the elder generations have not yet experienced and never will. that's the future. the republican party probably has to understand that. the second thing, it's a little bit harder to explain, is health care. i think for the latino community especially, health care reform was a big deal. it was a promise to move up the economic ladder. >> why do you think it -- sam, you know so much. why do you think it worked particularly well with a latino community, which includes, by the way, people who have been here 200, 300 years. not just people who got here this generation. >> it's an economic issue for them. it is a matter of survival economically as well. and listen, i think part of the problem was not just that the republican party was anti-obama care. it was that they never filled in gap about what they would replace it with. >> exactly. >> what we had a month ago was eric cantor putting out a bill, a very, you know, sensible conservative bill that would have expanded high-risk pools using funds from preventative health care in obama care. it was just transferring money. he couldn't get it through the republican house. he had to pull that off the floor. i think that's a huge signal to the latino community, to other
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communities, that the republican party isn't putting out a platform that they can attach to. >> here's a takeaway, joy. here's a takeaway. i like to give takeaways on this show. teaching role here we have. look at this. 18 to 29-year-old voting bloc. look how it's gone. they haven't always voted different than older people. in 1984, for example, ronald reagan won 59% of the youth vote to walter mondale's 40%. same same, same exact vote. by 2008, the youth vote had pulled far away from the national vote in supporting obama. that year the president got 66% of the youth vote, going up to age 28, to mccain's 32%. putting the president's success with young voters 13 points ahead of the overall national vote. so, joy, this disconnect is an endemic. it's not historic. the inability of the republican party to reflect the views and news of the people in their 20s and late teens is new and a big problem for them. >> yeah, no. with kennedy, it was also this politics of aesthetic.
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he represents that generational change. reagan represented the politics of assertiveness. there was a point in the '80s where the younger voter wanted an assertive president. somebody who could stick out america's chest again. that appealed to younger people. you're absolutely right. the republican party has not always had a problem. reagan was an older man. he could channel because he had the hollywood background, something that appealed to a younger person and some democrats who voted for him. policy does matter, too. you talked about health care. the obama folks and the democrats did a lot of things wrong when it came to selling the obama care. the one thing they did right was they put the parts of it early that appealed to younger people. being able to stay on your parents' insurance, i think republicans underestimated just how appealing that would be not just to the moms and the dads, but to the kids. if you're a college graduate, not having to worry about that, being able to stay on your parents' insurance until you're 26 was huge. also the ability to get things like free mammograms and other sort of preventative care, for young women when they graduated from college, that sort of void you go into on health care if you don't have a job that gives you benefits, those things
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really appeal to younger people, to women, and to minorities. that's one of the reasons obama care has stuck in the younger communities and among minority voters. >> you're amazing. you talk as fast as me. you're smart as me. everybody i bump into say you're great. joy, you are something. sam, you're great, too, i guess. just kidding, sam. >> appreciate it. >> you're catching on. >> i'm almost as good as joy. >> i can't even figure out your politics, sam. i've been on with you 100 times now. i can't figure you out yet. up next, was virginia's republican candidate for governor actually for his far right running mate before he was against him? this is fascinating. he is trying to disentangle himself from e.w. jackson who's pretty wild. and this is "hardball." the place for politics. [ mom ] with my little girl, every food is finger food.
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ha! back to "hardball." now to the sideshow.
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first, virginia's race for governor. remember when republican gubernatorial candidate ken cuccinelli said this about his party's nominee for lieutenant governor? e.w. jackson? "we are not defending any of our running mate's statements. now or in the future." what e.w. jackson and republican candidate for lieutenant governor said about planned parenthood is likely in that mix of statements. >> the democrat party has created an unholy alliance between certain so-called civil rights leaders and planned parenthood which has killed unborn black babies by the tens of millions. planned parenthood has been far more lethal to black lives than the kkk ever was. >> here's a new development. jackson now says cuccinelli nudged him to run for lieutenant governor back in 2010 when jackson was running for the u.s. senate. jackson told the "washington post," "cuccinelli said essentially, i think you'd make a good candidate for lieutenant governor. have you thought about it? i do remember him suggesting if it worked out he would be proud to have me as a running mate." well, the statement prompted a
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response from cuccinelli's spokesman who chalked it off to a possible miscommunication. "ken asked why the senate and if he ever thought to run for anything else like maybe lieutenant governor. e.w. may have misconstrued that as a direct ask." i would have. next an update from the fringe. cathie adams, former chair of the texas republican party. the idea anti-tax crusader grover norquist is a secret muslim is nothing new for the far right. they point to norquist muslim outreach group and his marriage to a muslim woman as evidence. a recent tea party event cathie adams floated some more, well, she calls it evidence. >> many of us know him because oftentimes we like what he says about economic issues. but grover norquist is trouble with a capital "t." as you see, he has a beard and he's showing signs of converting to islam, himself. he's married a muslim woman, but he denies that he has converted himself.
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he denies that. >> i guess abraham lincoln was a muslim, too. anyway, there's a reason to suspect someone on a path to radical islam because they have a beard? again, the lincoln example. finally, a break from politics. it's not just kids and pets that get spooked by thunder and lightning. last night's game at yankee stadium got hit with three rain delays. there was plenty of thunder in the mix. here's what happened in the yankees dugout during one particularly loud clap. >> booming thunder rocks yankee stadium moments ago. that's brett gardner and company. >> anyway, the poor dears. now over to the reaction from the red sox in the exact same moment. >> jarrod saltalamacchia says i'm out, no mas. >> wow. a little more subdued. both teams spooked by the thunder there. it's one thing the yankees and the red sox have in common. they don't like lightning.
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up next, the irs is under fire, again, as i said for spending nearly $50 million on conferences for its employees, including this one where irs workers were videotaped line dancing. that's ahead. you're watching "hardball." the place for politics.
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well, here's some recent unpleasantness. just when you thought it couldn't get worse at the irs, a new report out from the treasury department, coming out tomorrow, will detail nearly $50 million spent on conferences for employees between 2010 and the year 2012. one meeting in anaheim, california, for 2,600 workers from maryland. they all trooped out there on an airplane. cost $4 million. some perceived -- or received perks that included presidential suites. apparently very expensive. like $3,500 rooms and baseball tickets. employees were shown videos of their colleagues, one even performing a dance called the cupid shuffle.
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that video along with a separate "star trek" spoof cost the irs over 50 million bucks. news like this is precisely what republicans use to attack big government. may be fair enough. in general, president obama, in particular, i don't get that part. jonathan weisman is a congressional reporter reporting on this story for "the new york times," and david corn is national bureau chief for mother jones and msnbc analyst. jonathan, i was trying to get the datelines here. doug shulman, a george w. bush appointee to head the irs, was head of the irs during all this escapading, apparently. >> that's right. he left toward the end of 2012, november 2012. so in fact, all of those travels and things like that were all under his watch. >> what stuns me is, you know, i can understand in probably a job that requires a lot of tedious work, hard work, repetitive work, and maybe certainly indoor work at a desk. you'd never get up.
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they figure that every couple months they have to give their employees something to look forward to. i understand that. but why do they take 2,600 employees from out here on the beltway and fly them all the way to california, to anaheim, for a conference? why didn't they go to, like, williamsburg or somebody by bus or something you can do without this enormous expense of travel? any explanation? >> it's crazy, especially since, remember, there was the gsa scandal, the government service administration scandal over lavish spending and craziness. and that -- these things keep cropping up. it's like whack-a-mole. you send some new inspector general, some new head to stop it and then some new agency comes up and starts doing it again. i feel really sorry for danny werfel, the guy from the white house budget office, just sent over to irs to stop all this just when all this is coming up. he's a guy who's basically a green eye shade kind of guy who's experienced in doing this, but he's got a really thankless job ahead of him.
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>> you know, this is an example, by the way, the i.g.'s reporting, not the republican party, the i.g. which is part of the u.s. government. by the way, when republicans are putting down the u.s. government which they have a right to in this case, they ought to give allowance to the fact this was discovered by, reported by, exposed by the i.g. >> in a way the system worked. i'm all for conferences if they're going to teach people to do things better and boost performance. that's not so bad. when you have these boondoggles, they get reported. the last one they had was in 2010 of these anaheim trips and they stopped it. the last few years they haven't done that. so the i.g., as in the case of the, you know, of picking on the tea party groups, sometimes things go awry in government. as in private business certainly as well. but fortunately, in government, you have inspector general. citigroup doesn't have an inspector general. >> let me make a point here that's very important. when you sit down and do your taxes, most people do their own. they're sitting down to make conscientious decisions to be honest. should i put this in there, not
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put this income in? should i push a little bit on my deductions? should i -- they're thinking now about these jokers. they're thinking, oh, give them a little more money, a few more bucks, they can have a better trip next year. nobody wants to be a chump, liberal or democrat. a statement on the upcoming i.g. report, acting irs commissioner danny werfel who is as clean as they can be. he's in there now on the anaheim meeting. 2,600 employees on an airplane to have some kind of conference on the other side of the country. "this conference is an unfortunate vestige from a prior era. while there were legitimate reasons for holding the meeting, many of the expenses associated with it were inappropriate and should not have occurred." well, that's putting a fairly nice comb on to it. jonathan, do they know -- let me ask you this. it's hard to report the intangible. the old argument was, don't do anything if you're in public life that you don't want on the front page of "the new york times." where was that whistleblower inside saying, you know what, we don't have to meet in anaheim,
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why don't we meet in d.c. at the national harbor place? it's a pretty nice place. we'll get some work done. they go visit the sites in d.c. why do we have to fly all the way across the country, all 2,600 people to meet among ourselves out there? >> i mean, i think it really does speak to a culture there because you would think that more than one person would look at this and say, what are we doing? this just seems wrong. and this is, remember, the irs, and this administration, the obama administration has been saying the irs needs more money, needs more money, more money. more money more irs enforcement will yield more money into the treasury because there's this huge tax gap of hundreds of billions of dollars of money that really should be paid and wouldn't be that hard to get if we just had somebody on the other end of the line calling you up and saying, hey, where are your taxes? but it's very hard to ask for more money when these things happen. >> okay. >> you give these symbolic things for those who don't want to give them more money.
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>> first to you, then, david, is the irs independent of the treasury secretary? to what extent is it independent? is it, in fact, just like any other department of government or subdepartment? it's under the leadership of the president of the united states as chief executive. what exempts him from personally going into the irs and cleaning it up? jonathan? >> well, i'll tell you, on one huge thing is civil service rules. i mean, look, lois lerner who is the head of exempt organizations during all this irs targeting of conservative groups, she -- danny werfel went in there, wanted to fire her and she said no. she was hauled in. she said, no, i'm not going to go. they had to put her on paid administrative leave. lois lerner is still on paid administrative leave. president obama has no recourse whatsoever on those matters. >> does the republican party want to fix that? >> it's a cause on -- >> what does that mean?
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how does the american voter get to somebody like that? >> well, there are rules, and you can -- the commissioner can fire people and they can go through the procedures. the president has a way to get rid of the commissioner. the point was there used to be that nixon would go in and tell people do this, do that. >> the average person out there watching right now -- tell them how to solve this kind of problem because they want it fixed. >> well, we have a new commissioner, and i think there are ways to get at this. but at the same time, you know, you're right. you're absolutely right. the irs should be like cesar's wife, beyond reproach. while we obsess about -- >> i'm not obsessing. i want it fixed. >> we're very selective when it comes to our outrage about government. "star trek" video for $30,000 gets people really upset, as it should. >> it's a total waste. look at this stuff. it's role playing here. >> in a second, the pentagon is wasting, you know, billions of dollars -- >> okay. two wrongs don't make a right. let me tell you what, david. every time the government screws up, the democrats get hurt.
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>> of course. that's right. >> they're the party that trusts government more than -- and republicans, you can have straight reporting like jonathan's and in the end the republicans sit back at home and say i told you they're a bunch of bums. great reporting. i love "the new york times." thank you, david corn. i love, i guess, "mother jones." up next, inside the obama white house and the president's battle for re-election. this is going to be fascinating. why the campaign ran so well while the second term has been in a rough patch. this is "hardball." the place for politics. she knows you like no one else. and you wouldn't have it any other way. but your erectile dysfunction - you know, that could be a question of blood flow. cialis tadalafil for daily use helps you be ready anytime the moment's right. you can be more confident in your ability to be ready. and the same cialis is the only daily ed tablet
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back in a moment with jonathan alter, his new book, a hell of a book about the obama white house and the president's re-election. it's called "the center holds." jonathan is joining us next.
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you know, i recognize that times have changed since i first spoke to this convention. times have changed and so have i. i'm no longer just a candidate. i'm the president.
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>> what a line. i'm the president. welcome back to "hardball." that was one of the high points of last year's presidential campaign from the democratic point of view. there was certainly many lows from the clown show that made up the republican field early on. the president's awful performance, we all agree now, in the first debate. jonathan alter chronicles it all in his new book. he writes the contest may have been the most important have been the most important in recent history and said the last election was not the closest contest, but may have been a hinge of history, the campaign featured trivial moments and struck me, that's him talking, at the core as the titanic struggle of the way americans see themselves and obligation to one another. the social concepts were on the line. how did an election campaign run so well turn into a second term with so many speed bumps? this is tough. nobody likes to criticize people they know.
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why did david put together a brilliant campaign with mistakes? social media. get out the vote. blow them away by surprising on election day. it came together. i was scared to death and yet this white house seems to have had no leader and no chief of staff and people getting blamed for something. this is not organized the way the campaign was. do you know why? >> i don't know, but dennis is pretty new on the job. >> is he the boss? >> obama is the boss. >> who is the chief of staff? >> they don't have a chief operating officer. remember what princess diana said when prince charles had the mistresses. she said the marriage was crowded. that's what it felt like to people like bill daley and anybody who is chief of staff.
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there is a group that includes valerie jarrett and a small group of other people and the president. >> it doesn't work as well as it should have. >> jim baker said the ideological course puts in charming a chief of staff to hire and fire and make sure people obey the president. a complete span of control. that's how presences work. when you don't run it that way, you have to explain why. if it is so powerful, incredibly powerful. why doesn't she become chief of staff? >> she would not be good. that doesn't matchup well. >> she's not well-liked. she's not the boss of that white house. >> you said she under cut a number of chiefs of staff. >> she did, but that doesn't mean she would be better on the job. the problem with jarrett's role
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is it's like the ceo putting his sister in charge of marketing. he describes her has a sister figure. very close confidant and probably shouldn't have all these responsibilities. it's a blurring of lines. that part of the white house is a smart part of my book. >> let's go out. what i like about the book is the clarity of writing. i want to talk about a couple of things. the beginning is gripping. let me ask you about the debates. i wasn't the only who went nuts. it's like he was overwhelmed by the arrogance of mitt romney. he owned that stage for some reason. >> the fascinating thing to me and i'm interested in the book what's going on behind closed doors. i don't write about the debate itself, but in if debate prep obama was 0-6. everybody knew that against john
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kerry playing around and knew he was going to blow the debate. >> when the red light goes o i will be all right. >> afterwards, he was honest about eventually conceding that he blew it. his disdain for romney worried him and his aides. he pulled that too much. the debate coach said it was like watching a man running under water. >> why did he win the later debates? >> because he's the guy who wants to have the ball when the game is on the line and hit that three-pointer. he said to his staff i don't like debates. i good at them in the past. i will win the second and the third debates. when he focuses, he delivers. he's a talented politician when he puts his mind to it. he doesn't like to think of himself as a politician. >> proceed, governor.
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>> i want to explain how they were in a hotel and they planted this whole thing. >> read the back if you love politics. it's called the center holds by one of the great political historians. we'll be right back after this.
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there two points everyone watching with agree upon. the charmings against the president have missed the mark. they are not about him personally because the cases
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clumped together as scandals occurred without him being involved. that doesn't mean they don't involve trouble, but they don't point to the president as the trouble maker nor do they point to corruption. much of this can be governmental or political ineptitude. this gets to the second point of failure of on the job politics. i don't get where he wasn't on top of the irs mess from the moment the people heard about it. he could have been backing up the inspector general. he could have been wearing the white hat instead of the one taking flack. he could have been on top of the mess instead of being vulnerable to the charges and behind it. i continue to think they lack a strong chain of command. as they read them, the white house lacks the strong organizational coherence that the campaign had. if anyone disagrees from inside or outside, me the chief of staff is a top person to report to the president. hoe has the ability to hire and fire and he is the one giving orders.
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he has the authority and the power to do so. i see a group of people who are not confident the president has their back and not conty dent to cover his back. i am calling it as i see it. that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. all in with chris hayes starts now. >> good evening from new york. i'm chris hays and thank you for joining us. we crack down one of the mystery men who john mccain's syrian rebel photo. plus years ago child republicans were all the rage and now people view the gop as little more than the walking dead. you might think we decided as a society to ban smoking on airplanes, but there was a fight led by one man.